Olde Paths &
Always Ravished With Love
by Glenn Conjurske
The Lord says in Matthew 19:9, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Hearing this the disciples respond, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. If the marriage bond cannot be dissolved, they thought, it is not good to marry at all.
But why not? Evidently because so many marriages are sour, uncongenial, unhappy, and unsatisfying, and it is evidently better to be single than to be trapped in a bad marriage. Better half hanged than ill wed, as an old proverb aptly says. But understand, the God who created marriage, and has dictated that the marriage bond should be permanent and indissoluble, never intended that that permanent bond should be unhappy or sour. God is good. God is love. Marriage is one of his best gifts to the human race, and his design for marriage is that it should be a union of supreme and unmingled happiness. God says, Rejoice with the wife of thy youth, ... and be thou ravished always with her love. (Prov. 5:18-19). This is not a picture of drudgery or misery, nor a picture of unsatisfied longings, but of complete satisfaction. This is Gods design for marriage.
And not only is this the design of God. It is also the dream of the whole human race. But it is a dream which is too seldom realized. Why is this? I believe one of the main reasons is just this, that you cannot be always ravished with a love which does not exist. I believe that most people who marry in our day are not in love when they marry. They likely never have been in love, and do not know what it is to be in love. They may have some strong romantic or physical desires towards their partner, but those desires are not love. Every man is in love with femininity, and I suppose every woman is in love with masculinity. Such love may give them strong desires towards any and every attractive person of the opposite sex, but it is another thing altogether to be in love with a particular person. And let us be very clear here: love is the only thing which can make a satisfying marriage. And I am not talking about spiritual love, nor about friendship, nor about brother-sister love, but about romantic love. I am talking about the love which can only exist between masculine and feminine souls, and which is based upon the mutual attractions which naturally exist between masculine and feminine natures. That love, I repeat, is the only thing which can secure a satisfying marriage.
But there are some very dangerous doctrines afloat in the church concerning
this love. Some hold that it is unnecessary, or transitory, or deceptive,
so that it is not worth troubling yourself about it. Others hold that
it is some way tainted or polluted, and call it by the debased name of
lust. What is needed, they say, is divine or spiritual
love. Others teach that love is a choice, or love
is a decision, and that any man may thus love any woman, if
he simply chooses to do so
Now I am bold to say that all of these doctrines are false, and not only false, but very pernicious, for wherever these doctrines are believed and acted upon they will fill the world with unhappy and unsatisfying marriages.
Some of these doctrines hardly need to be refuted. We all know by nature that romantic love cannot be secured by a decision. We all know by nature that it is not possible to fall in love with every man or woman we know. Towards some we feel no attraction at all, and could not if we spent ten years trying. Towards others we may feel a weak attraction. Towards others we feel a very strong attraction. Even this is not love, though it is the foundation for love. It is a plain fact, and a fact which we all know by nature, that we cannot fall in love with every person we know.
But observe, if it is true that a man cannot fall in love with every woman he knows, or at any time he chooses, and another fact that love is the only thing which can give him a satisfying marriage, then the most important thing is to secure that love before we enter into marriage. Know what that love is, and know that you have it. Without the certainty of that love, you will be nothing better than a fool to marry at all. It is carelessness or ignorance on this point which produces so many unhappy marriages, even among the most godly and spiritual of Christians.
An old proverb says, Marriage is a lottery, implying that we cannot know beforehand whether our marriage will be good or bad, happy or miserable. Alas, this proverb is true if we marry without securing those things which will secure a good marriage. No one makes bad marriages on purpose, yet bad marriages are more common than good ones. No one makes dull or unhappy or sour or unsatisfying marriages on purpose, but they fail to take those steps which will prevent them. This makes marriage a lottery indeed
But to suppose that marriage is necessarily a lottery is in fact to reproach the God who created marriage. Does God require you to enter into a permanent relationship, to be parted only by death, with no way to know whether you will be happy in it or miserable? Does God require you to make this permanent commitment as you would buy a lottery ticket, taking the risk of a life of misery or drudgery, for the chance of a life of happiness? No one who believes in the goodness of God can believe any such thing. Man has made marriage a lottery. God did not make it so. Man makes marrriage a lottery by ignorantly or carelessly entering into it without first securing those things which will secure its happiness.
Those things are simple enough, and there are only two of them. Those two are love and character. Without love, marriage will be drudgery, or worse. Without character, love will not be very likely to survive. We must have love to make a good marriage, and character to preserve it. Both of these things must be secured before marriage, or they will probably never be secured at all. This is especially true of love. If you marry someone of the wrong character, that may be changed. The ungodly may repent and be converted. The lazy may repent and become industrious. Those who marry a partner of bad character, hoping for a change after marriage, are very foolish, but still such a change is possible. But love is another matter. If you know a person well enough to enter into a marriage engagement, and are yet not in love, it is almost certain that you never will be and never can be. It is no time to think of making a good marriage when you find yourself in a bad one. You cannot add the sugar after the cake is baked.
And understand, it is altogether proper that we should be in love before we marry. The Bible says, And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. ... And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. (Gen. 29:18 & 20). This was no tame friendship, nor spiritual love, but romance. This burned in Jacobs heart for seven years before he married his beloved Rachel.
But as we said earlier, we fear that most couples who marry are not in love, though many of them doubtless think they are. Good marriages are rare. Divorce is common in the church as well as in the world, and among those who have too much character to think of divorce, unhappy, unsatisfying marriages are more common than happy ones. I believe there are two reasons for this state of things. One reason is that many who started out with a delightful and satisfying marriage, by their own carelessness or lack of character have lost it. But many others have married without ever securing the ingredients necessary to make a good marriage. Ignorance, often coupled with bad teaching on the subject, have left most young people simply in the dark as to the nature of true romance, which is the one ingredient absolutely necessary to make a good marriage.
But you simply cannot afford to be ignorant here. Next to your choice
as to whether you will serve the Lord or the devil, your choice of a marriage
partner is the most important choice you will ever make. Your choice to
hold on to your sins, or to repent of them and serve Christ, will determine
Now when we come to speak of the bond of marriage, it is a plain fact
that the only kind of marriage which can satisfy you is the delightful
kind. I once heard a man speak of having a successful marriage.
What is a successful marriage? One that does not
end in divorce? One that is not full of fighting and nagging? Is that
all? Who wants a successful marriage? It is natural,
probably unavoidable, that people should dream of marriage, but folks
do not dream of anything so cold as a successful
marriage, but of a delightful marriage. They dream of a piece of rich,
moist cake, covered all over with thick, creamy frosting. And my advice
is: dream all you please, and then . . .
I, of course, am very well aware that WAIT is
the very last word which many of you wish to hear. You have waited too
long already. You have pressing physical and emotional desires which are
almost overwhelming. They obtrude themselves upon you at all times, in
every circumstance and activity. Whether you converse, or work, or read,
or pray, those desires are always present, always powerful, always pressing
for fulfillment. In short, you are burning, and Scripture says, It
is better to marry than to burn. (I Cor. 7:9). And yet I ask
you, What kind of marriage do you want? A marriage which will satisfy
those desires, and end your burning, or a marriage that will leave you
burning still? Any marriage which does not thoroughly fulfill your dreams
and thoroughly satisfy your desires will leave you burning still. Though
you may not know it, you need a marriage which will satisfy and lay to
rest all of the physical and emotional desires which belong to your nature
Now, when I speak of the fulfillment of your dreams, I am speaking of
the dreams of your heart
The main ingredient is romance. Romantic love! This is the thing which alone can satisfy your heart. This is the thing without which marriage is drudgery rather than delight. The most important thing to secure, then, before you ever think of marrying, is to be in love.
Understand, now, to be in love with someone is an altogether different
thing from loving that person. You may love a thousand people at once
That there are two different kinds of love is a fact which the whole human race knows by experience, so that there should be no need to say a word on the subject. But alas, many of the popular teachers of the modern church have darkened counsel on this subject by words without knowledge, teaching as though these two kinds of love are but one. This is a hyperspiritual notion, which requires people to deny the obvious, and which leads in the end to disillusionment. The distinction between these two kinds of love is as plainly seen in the Bible as it is in the universal experience of the human race. First Corinthians 13 sets forth generic love. The Song of Solomon sets forth romantic love. If you need proof that the two are not the same thing, consider the following:
Romantic love says, Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love. (Song of Solomon 2:5).
Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. (Song of Solomon 4:9).
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me. (Song of Solomon 6:5).
Such things have no place in generic love
Clearly, then, it is possible to have very strong generic love toward someone without having any romantic love at all. This is as it should be, and must be. But generic love, however strong, can never make a good marriage. That kind of love cannot fulfill your dreams. It cannot satisfy your heart. You must have a different kind of love. Your heart aches for romance, and can never be satisfied with anything less. This is a fact which no one would question were it not for the fact that hyperspiritual notions on the subject have been spread through the church by popular teachers. Such notions may take various forms, which range from merely ignoring romantic love (as though generic love were the only kind there is), to fearing it (as though it were something illusionary or deceptive), to despising it (as though it were unsatisfying or transitory), to depreciating it (as though it were something carnal). The great George Whitefield obviously took the last viewpoint 250 years ago, when he wrote in a letter proposing marriage: You need not be afraid of sending me a refusal; for, I bless God, if I know anything of my own heart, I am free from that foolish passion, which the world calls love.
In our own day, I once heard a speaker on a national evangelical radio program, discoursing on how to tell if you are in love. His whole presentation was from I Corinthians 13, and though he said many true and wise things about generic love, not one word did he say that had anything to do with his subject, how to know if you are in love. He said enough, however, to make it clear that he believed that what is usually (and rightly) regarded as being in love is transitory and unnecessary.
Friends, I am here to inform you that true romance is neither carnal, nor unsatisfying, nor unnecessary. It is the most delightful and satisfying gift of God to man, and certainly one of the purest and noblest. A whole book of the Bible is devoted to it, and it is the soul and life of every marriage which is anything more than empty routine or mere drudgery. And more, I intend to show you shortly, on the basis of experience and Scripture, how you may know whether you are in love. But before that we must establish a couple of other points:
First, if romance is not mere generic love, neither is it mere physical
love. The physical love which belongs to marriage may be the frosting
on the cake, but it is not the cake. That romantic love is not mere physical
lovemaking I prove by two self-evident facts. First, you may have a physical
relationship where you have no romance at all, as a myriad of unhappily
married couples could tell you. But it is equally true that you may be
deeply in love without having any physical relationship at all
The real ecstasy even of the physical relationship does not lie in the physical realm at all, but in the deep and tender intimacy of heart and soul with your own beloved. Without that intimate union of heart and soul, which is the essence of true romantic love, the physical union of male and female will be as insipid and unsatisfying as food without salt, or perhaps I should say, cake without sugar. You will partake of it, because you need it, but you will find yourself involuntarily (and unavoidably) longing for the something that you know is missing, even though you may be unable to define what that something is. You will still be burning and languishing for love.
The next thing I must establish is that romantic feelings
I now proceed to give you a few tests by which you may know if you are in love.
Romantic feelings consist primarily of delight in and desire for a person
of the opposite sex. A man may have such feelings for any and every attractive
woman, and not be in love with any of them. When he is in love, all of
those feelings are centered in one person. She rises, in his eyes, above
every other woman he knows or can imagine
A man, then, who has trouble making up his mind between two women is certainly not in love with either of them. When he is in love with one, the other will be out of his thoughts. If he has dreams or desires for any other woman, he is certainly not in love. If any other woman can draw his heart, he is certainly not in love.
A man who is in love is willing to take his beloved as she is, without any change. He may be very well aware of her faults and foibles, and yet he wants her still. He is willing to commit himself to a lifetime of the most intimate closeness to her just as she is, without any change in her ever. Of course, if she has faults and defects in her character, you wish to see those faults removed, and to see her become everything she ought to be. Nevertheless, you would rather have her, with all her faults, than any other woman on earth. And you would rather have her just as she is, faults and all, than not to have her at all.
And this test we may take a step further. If you are in love, you will not only take this woman just as she is, but also for better or for worse. Suppose her health fails. You would rather have her in sickness than any other woman in health. Suppose she gains twenty-five pounds. You would rather have her overweight than any other woman trim and shapely.
And I must mention here that one of the womans deepest needs is
for security, and every real or imagined defect in herself, especially
every physical defect, tends to make her insecure. She goes about to remedy
her supposed defects with clothes and cosmetics and curlers and diets
and exercises and who knows what, and yet her insecurity remains. The
only thing which can totally remove that insecurity is a mans love,
and a man who is in love with her can give her such security that she
can bask in it, swim in it, sink in it, forget even that she has any need
And with this I must pause and turn aside a little. The tests of which
I have spoken, and those of which I am yet to speak, concern how to know
if you are in love. I have written generally from the mans viewpoint,
assuming that the same things will be true from the womans side,
and that women will easily make the proper applications. From the womans
side, however, arises another question of supreme importance, namely,
how to know that a man is in love with you. From the womans side
this is the most important thing
Now to come to the point: a womans heart cannot be satisfied by
a man who is not in love with her. A man who loves a woman might possibly
be satisfied with the actual possession of her, though her love for him
is deficient, for his satisfaction is in giving love, but a woman
And oh, what caution a woman needs here! Your whole happiness in marriage
depends upon this. You must stand on solid ground here, and not on dreams
or imaginations. A man gives a giddy girl a dime, and she carries off
a dollar, the other ninety cents being manufactured by her own imagination.
He tells her she is beautiful
But some women will find that their difficulty lies on the opposite side.
The naive and inexperienced girl may take every dime for a dollar, but
when she has mistaken dimes enough for dollars she is likely to become
disillusioned and cynical, and despise a real dollar as a dime. It is
just man talk, and she cannot believe it sincere.
Thus she protects herself from getting hurt, but this will not alter or
eliminate the need of her nature to believe in the sincerity of such talk.
She needs the dollar as much as every other woman does. Her real safety
does not lie in a sullen cynicism, but in the wholesome caution which
results from an intelligent understanding of the matter. And yet
I am bold to say that a man who is in love can expel such cynicism from
the heart of a woman, and genuinely persuade her that in his eyes she
is the most charming thing on earth
It would seem a shame to the male sex, however, that any woman should
have occasion to protect herself by building up a resistance against such
talk. But men act instinctively and ignorantly in this, doubtless intending
to give pleasure to women by such talk, and certainly not intending to
harm them. Yet I insist that no man has any right to give a dime to a
woman until he is prepared and able to give her the whole dollar. To do
so is only to deceive her. And yet men commonly hand out such dimes to
Thus by both men and women the emotional as well as the physical delights
of love are indulged where love itself has never yet existed. An old proverb
says, Neer again such bliss as loves first kiss,
but neither men nor women reserve their kisses until they are in love,
but pass them out to anyone with whom they may have a dating relationship.
Why do they do this? Because they find pleasure in it
But to return to the tests by which you may know if you are in love. Any man who is in love with one woman would rather wait (if need be) to possess her, than to possess any other woman immediately. (And girls, any man who comes to you with now or never is certainly not in love with you, and if you value your own happiness you will now tell him never, and be glad you have been delivered from him.) There may be any number of legitimate reasons why your beloved may not be able to marry you immediately, one of the most likely of those reasons being that she is not fully persuaded that she wants to marry you at all. Real love will not pressure her on that point, but be willing to take whatever time is required to secure her on a basis that will insure her happiness as well as your own. And if her heart is already secured, and there yet remains some necessary period of waiting before marriage, a man who is in love would rather wait, however long he must, in order to possess her, than to think of abandoning her for any other woman. Though he may be burning as much as any other man for the physical intimacy of marital love, still he would rather wait to receive it from her, than to think of receiving it from anyone else. He really has no interest in receiving it from anyone else.
Another test is this. When a man is in love with one woman
But very great caution is needed here, for those reasons of which I have
spoken at length above. A man may speak with perfect sincerity to a woman
of her beauty and her charms when he is not in love with her at all. He
might speak in the same tone, with equal sincerity, to ten women at once,
or think the same kind of thoughts concerning another woman at the very
time he is speaking them to this one. It is a much different thing to
be in love than it is merely to be ravished with feminine beauty and feminine
charm. If a man finds delight in a woman merely on the basis of her femininity
These are the acid tests. Anyone who is in love can pass them all, with
colors flying. If you cannot pass them, you are not in love. If you cannot
understand them, you have never been in love. If you are in love, you
will most likely feel that most of them are too easy, too low, too cold,
to tell half the tale. Your love is fervent, ardent, intense, strong
as death, burning with a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love (Song of Solomon
8:6-7), and you are sure that your love would burn through deeper floods
than these. If you must spend seven years at hard labor for your beloved,
as Jacob did, they would seem but a few days to you (Gen. 29:20)
Ah, yes! you say, now he is talking
my language. Then you are in love, and there is no doubt about
it. You do not merely burn to possess a woman, but to possess this woman,
and you feel from the depth of your soul that no other woman could satisfy
you. This is love!
But someone will ask, Would it not be possible to pass all of these tests, and have nothing more than a bad case of infatuation? And my answer to that question is an emphatic yes.You have probably heard solemn warnings about the dangers of infatuation, but I dare say you have never heard any solid instruction on what infatuation is, or wherein its danger lies. Ignorant and hyperspiritual teachers often assume that true romantic love is mere infatuation, and reserve the name of love for the generic or spiritual kind, thus teaching people to fear or despise the very thing which is all-important to their own happiness. And even if you find a teacher who will recognize the necessity of true romance, he is still more likely to bewilder than to instruct you, by giving you strong cautions against something called infatuation, which he neither defines nor describes.
What, then, is infatuation, and how can you distinguish it from love?
Here I must be bold, and affirm that infatuation IS love. You will find
it so defined in any good dictionary
Now let us be very careful to define exactly what romantic infatuation
consists of. If you are infatuated, you are deluded, deceived, misled,
befooled. The question is, Deceived about what? The common notion seems
to be that infatuation consists in being deceived about the reality, or
the nature, of your own romantic feelings
The question remains, then, Deceived about what? The answer is: Deceived
about the real nature of the person who has captured your heart. Romantic
infatuation is love indeed, but it is love which is based upon but little
real knowledge, and a great deal of fantasy and imagination. The difference
between infatuation and solid romance does not lie in the nature of the
This is infatuation, and because the world is so filled with false notions about it, I must insist strongly and repeatedly that the feelings involved in it are of exactly the same sort as you will find in the real thing. So far as the feelings go, infatuation is the real thing. It is real romantic love, but based upon an imaginary foundation, which is likely to crumble or evaporate when you actually know your lover.
Let me try to illustrate this. Put yourself in the place of Jacob on
his wedding night. Seven long years he has labored to possess his beloved
Rachel. At last the night of ecstasy has arrived, but under the cover
of the darkness Leah is substituted in the place of Rachel. Jacob, however,
knew nothing of that, and believed it was his own Rachel. Can you suppose
there was any defect in Jacobs feelings on that night? Did he not
find the purest delight and the deepest satisfaction in the long-awaited
fulfillment of his dreams? No doubt he did
And here lies the great danger of infatuation. This is why an infatuated person may be able to pass all of the tests, and prove to himself that he is in love. He is in love, but not with a real person. He is in love with a fantasy, an imagination. The real person he does not know.
Let me explain how this infatuation may come about. Most people crave
romantic fulfillment. They have a heart full of dreams about the way it
is supposed to be, or the way they wish it to be. A man carries about
in his heart a fantasy woman of his dreams. He meets (or merely sees)
a beautiful woman, and it is love at first sight.
She immediately becomes the woman of his dreams. He unconsciously transfers
all of his dreams to her. She becomes
The cure for infatuation (whether it is a religion, an organization,
or a woman you are infatuated with) lies in a thorough knowledge of the
object of your love. If you thoroughly know your partner, and yet your
feelings remain as strong or stronger than they were before
But one thing we must understand here. When I speak of close contact,
I am not speaking of physical contact. It needs but very little time to
know the body of your partner. All that there is to know of the body you
may learn in ten minutes, but most of that knowledge you have no right
to, until you know your partner in marriage. And
until then you certainly have no need to know it, for if you take the
time and the proper course to thoroughly know and love her self, which
is her soul, it is a simple impossibility for you to be disappointed with
her body, when you at last take her to yourself. Remember, it is God who
requires you to abstain from physical intimacy until you are married,
and God does not require you to commit yourself till death
do us part to a mere chance of satisfaction. To believe such
a thing is directly to impugn the goodness of God. An ungodly man once
told me that he had proposed to a woman, and added, It was
really a foolish thing to do. I hadnt even been to bed with her
I repeat, then, when I speak of close contact, I do not refer to physical
contact. Love is not secured by physical contact. Love is not a union
of bodies, but a union of souls. The union of male and female bodies you
may have without one molecule of love. The one thing absolutely necessary
to fall in love is to know the soul of your partner. The soul is the real
Romantic love consists of feelings of attraction and delight between persons of the opposite sex, feelings which are based upon their difference in sex, feelings which they cannot feel towards a person of the same sex. Every human being is like a magnet, having within itself a power of attraction, and around itself an aura of attraction, capable of drawing to itself the opposite pole of another magnet. When two such opposite magnetic poles come close enough together, each exerts its own drawing power upon the other, until they are drawn together and united as one, held together by nothing other than the powers of attraction which by nature lie within themselves. This is how people fall in love.
Love is not a decision, as some ignorantly affirm.
When those powerful magnetic forces are drawing you, you need not decide
to be attracted, and you cannot decide not to be
Now there are two things which must be understood about these powers of attraction. The first thing is, they do not lie primarily in the body. Those attractions between the sexes which belong to the body are indeed real and powerful and delightful, but they are not to be compared with those which lie in the soul. The physical attractions alone cannot permanently secure your hearts to each other, precisely because they are not sufficient to satisfy your hearts. Good-looking people, you know, get divorces just as often as plain ones. If you were a mere body, a mere body might satisfy all of your desires, but you are a soul, and will never be satisfied with anything other than a soul which answers to yours.
I will again speak from a mans viewpoint, believing that a womans
experience will naturally correspond. The powers of a woman to attract
a mans heart consist of two things, beauty and charm. Beauty is
in the body. Charm is in the soul. And however real and powerful the attractions
of a womans body may be, those of her soul are much more powerful,
much deeper, and certainly more satisfying. I am well aware that the men
of our day may be generally ignorant of this. Their physical desires,
powerful enough by nature, are continually inflamed by a wicked and perverted
world, which makes everything of the body, and wantonly displays it everywhere,
so that men have become completely preoccupied with womens bodies,
and suppose that to be the all-important thing. They have likewise become
completely preoccupied with their own physical needs, to the point that
they are ignorant that they have any needs any deeper than those of the
body. But those deeper needs, which lie in the soul, will make themselves
felt, and a man will learn that mere physical intimacy cannot give him
the satisfaction which he supposed it would. Why do the marriages of beautiful
and shapely women break up, the same as the marriages of the plain women?
Obviously, the most ravishing beauty of the feminine face and form is
not enough to satisfy and secure the heart of a man. He needs something
deeper than this. What he needs is love
The next thing which must be understood about those magnetic powers of attraction which draw men and women together is that they are largely subjective and undefinable. You cannot define those powers, and they do not consist merely of objective qualities, but also of subjective perceptions. They certainly have a basis in objective qualities, but that basis, by itself, is wholly inadequate to explain the thing.
Without question some of those charms which attract each sex to the other
lie in the physical appearance. But the old proverb which says Beauty
is in the eye of the beholder is the absolute truth. Jill
is a beautiful woman, and she draws Jack like a magnet. But John, while
admitting Jills objective beauty, is not drawn to her. Plain Jane
draws John like a magnet, while Jack can see nothing in her. Now try to
explain all of this. Jills objective beauty is not the whole explanation
even of Jacks interest in her, for he knows a hundred others as
beautiful as she, but none of them attract him as she does. And as for
plain Jane, John knows a hundred more beautiful than she, but he is not
attracted to any of them as he is to her. There is something about her
You will say, It is something in her personality. Very likely
When we turn from the body to the soul, we find exactly the same thing to be true. You cannot define the powers of romantic attraction which lie in a womans soul. There is undoubtedly an objective basis for them, both in the traits of feminine charm as such, and also in the personality traits of each particular woman. Yet that objective basis remains inadequate to account for the attraction (or lack of it) which exists between particular persons. Why are certain particular people irresistibly attracted to each other? Doubtless God understands this, but I can no more explain it than I can the workings of a computer. It is simply ignorance to try to explain it on the basis of like personalities (or unlike personalities), common interests, objective personality traits, or anything else objective. Ellie has a vibrant and pleasing personality, which attracts many. Nellie has a dwarfed and cold personality, which attracts but few. This is objective. Yet some men find cold Nellie attractive, but not warm Ellie, while others find neither of them attractive, and still others are attracted to both of them. None of this can be explained on the basis of anything objective.
The significance of all of this is found in the necessary conclusion
that it is not possible for a man to fall in love with every woman he
knows, nor for a woman to fall in love with every man she knows. Many
persons of the opposite sex simply lack the charms necessary to exert
any romantic pull upon your heart. You know this. Everyone with a little
sense and experience knows this, and no one would deny it unless they
were taught to deny it. Unfortunately, people are being taught to deny
it, by means of hyperspiritual notions, such as that romantic love is
the same thing as generic love (which you can and ought to feel towards
all), or that love is a decision, which you can
make when and towards whom you please. Thus people are led to marry on
some other basis than that of true romantic love, and may thus be led
to marry a partner with whom they cannot fall in love
How do you get that bond of soul? There is one thing absolutely essential.
You must spend time together. By this means you will discover and be drawn
by those powers of attraction which lie in each others souls
Those ties are also to be created only by spending time together, and
this must be time spent in direct personal communication with each other.
By that means, little by little, your hearts and souls will be knit and
entwined together by a thousand little ties
Now observe two things about this process. First, this is a union of
souls, not of bodies. All of this process may take place
Be careful, therefore, not to deceive yourself on this point. The mere
fact that you have spent much time together guarantees nothing. The first
question is, How have you spent that time? You may spend every evening
for months together hugging and kissing (if you are foolish enough to
do so), or watching movies or playing tennis (if you are worldly enough
to do that), and yet not know each other at all. To know each other you
must spend time talking
We must next consider the body. I have doubtless said enough already
to convince the reader that I do not regard the body as the most important
thing in marriage. That place unquestionably belongs to the soul, or personality.
Yet the body is of very great importance also. To come immediately to
the main question, Should you marry someone who is not physically attractive
to you? The answer is absolutely not
First of all, marriage is a physical relationship. They two shall be one flesh. This is physical. All of the dreams of the whole human race about marriage, whatever else they may include, are dreams of an intimate and delightful physical relationship. The Song of Solomon is full of this. This is marital love. To marry someone who is physically unattractive to you is to throw away all of your dreams at once. It is to throw away any hope or chance of the ravishing delight which marital love is designed to be (and which your heart needs it to be), and to take in its place a dull or distasteful drudgery.
In the second place, if your partner is not physically attractive to you, this is proof positive that you are not in love. You cannot be in love with someone who is physically unattractive to you, nor can someone you are in love with be physically unattractive to you. In the nature of the case this is impossible.
But someone will ask, What if it is the will of God that I should marry
someone who is not attractive to me? And you may as well throw in a second
question: What if it is the will of God that I should marry someone I
am not in love with? I answer both questions boldly, such a thing is not
and cannot be the will of God. In the first place, if God is good, and
if he has created marriage for your good, then it cannot be his will that
you should enter into a marriage which cannot fulfill its purpose. And
in the second place, he has told you what his will is in this matter.
Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished
always with her love. (Prov. 5:19). You can neither be ravished
always with a love which you do not possess, nor satisfied at all times
with a face and form which is not attractive to you. The Bible also says,
she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in
the Lord. (I Cor. 7:39). Only in the Lord
is the only restriction which the Lord places upon you. Beyond that, it
is his will that you should marry whom you will
But we have not yet told half the tale. Physical attractiveness comes
in varying degrees, from very weak to very strong. It is not enough that
you find some degree of physical attraction in your partner. Nothing will
do but an intense attraction. This is especially true from the mans
side. Nothing will do but that his own woman should be, in his eyes, the
most attractive woman on earth. Nothing short of this will satisfy either
his heart or hers, and it would be the extreme of folly for a man to enter
into marriage feeling disappointed or short-changed
The Song of Solomon gives us the God-inspired ideal of marital love,
and in that book we find both lovers very much occupied with the physical
attractions which lie in each other. This is much more prominent from
the mans side, as we would expect
So speaks the man in this picture, again and again. Again and again his
eyes run over her ravishing face and form, and he delights to speak of
The bride does the same
But some of you are thinking, all of this is delightful, but is it possible?
How could I, a plain or puny man, eclipse the handsome and muscular men
around me? How could I, a plain and poorly built woman, eclipse the beautiful
faces and figures which are all around me? Maybe if we were stranded alone
on an island of the sea
Well! There is an all-sufficient answer to all of those how
questions. The answer is, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
We are not talking about that objective beauty, which exists in the face
and form of its possessor, but of the subjective kind, which exists in
the eye of the beholder. Beauty
Moreover, that objective beauty is totally unnecessary. The subjective kind of beauty, which is in the eye of the beholder, will actually and permanently secure all of those things which the objective beauty fails to secure, for the beauty which a man sees in his beloved will endure and increase even when her actual external beauty fades. And this subjective beauty, the beauty which a man who is in love sees in his beloved, may be found in the plainest woman on earth, and be just as ravishing in her as it could be in the most beautiful. What, then? Is this subjective beauty mere imagination, in the heart of the beholder? Certainly not. It is real and substantial. The actual face and form of his own beloved really do thoroughly ravish his heart, and there is no imagination about it. Every man who has ever been in love knows this to be the absolute truth, and does not need any explanation as to how it can be. It is certainly better experienced than explained, but for the benefit of those who have never been there, I will give as full an explanation as I can.
Both men and women usually fail entirely to recognize the distinction
between objective and subjective beauty, and the failure leads both of
them into false and foolish ways. Women endeavor to make themselves attractive
by means of a thousand kinds of external adornment (many of which actually
make them less attractive), and they remain insecure in spite of all of
their endeavors. They fail to understand that there is a deeper beauty,
flowing out of the hidden man of the heart, and
that that deeper beauty will actually secure for them the things which
their external beauty and adornments fail to obtain. Men, too, naturally
attracted as they all are to external feminine beauty, fail to understand
that that beauty is vain while it lasts, and is
destined to fade with time
A man will go after the pretty girl, and marry her with a love based upon nothing deeper than his delight in her external physical beauty, only to discover too late how empty that beauty really is. The plain girl he passes by, though she may have within her exactly what it will take to thrill and ravish and satisfy his soul for the rest of his days. The pretty girl, of course, may ravish his heart likewise, but her pretty face and shapely form are no guarantee of it. But he supposes they are, and pays all of his attention to her. The plain girl is not on his list, and he will not consider her, or ever get close enough to her to find out how really beautiful she might become to him. Such a view of things is as foolish as it would be for a man to go shopping for some delicacy, and buy a beautiful and ornate jar, without any regard to the contents. He might, by a good stroke of luck, obtain something really delicious, but it is just as possible that he would get something bland or distasteful. The plain jar he passes by, though it may in fact contain the most delectable delicacy on the shelf.
Oh! that I might impart to men a little wisdom,that they might see the
folly of such ways. There is pleasure in looking at and handling the beautiful
jar, but it is nothing to be compared with the pleasure of enjoying the
contents. No honest man could pretend to deny that there is great pleasure
in seeing and handling and possessing a beautiful female form
And here the plain girl actually has the advantage over the beautiful. The beautiful girl has more suitors, none of whom may either know or care whether she has a soul. If she is very shapely, they may scarcely know that she has a face. The plain girls suitor is more likely interested in her real self, and she is therefore more likely to find real love. Nevertheless, she must exercise all the same caution as the beautiful girl, for many men merely settle for a plain woman because they cannot get a beautiful one. This is very common, and in this case the plain girl will certainly have less in her marriage than the beautiful girl who was married for her beauty.
Here, then, are the facts. If you marry for the delights of the body,
and fail to secure those of the soul, you will get little of either,for
you will very soon find mere physical intimacy to be stale and empty without
love. But if you secure the delights of the soul, in mutual love,you will
But a man asks, How could I be ravished with the beauty of
a woman who isnt beautiful? This makes no sense. I answer,
Fall in love with her,and you will be so ravished with her beauty that
you wont know what sense is
Understand, I am not telling you to marry a plain woman while she remains plain in your eyes. I am not telling you to settle for a woman who is not a ravishing beauty to you. I am not telling you to try to be satisfied with a woman who does not satisfy you. I am not telling you that physical beauty in a woman is not really important. It is not only important, but absolutely essential. You know this in your own heart, and cannot feel otherwise, try as you might. You know that you cannot have any romantic love for a woman who is not physically attractive. The whole human race knows this. It belongs to your nature to need an attractive woman, and none but the hyperspiritual would question it.
It is not only hyperspiritual teaching, however, which opposes or slights a mans need for an attractive woman. No one displays more persistent antagonism to this element of human nature than plain women. They will pout and fret over it, and perhaps storm and rage if it is mentioned to them. They bitterly complain that this is not fair, and defiantly declare that any man who attaches so much importance to external beauty is not worth having anyway. Yet in the depth of their own soul they need to be beautiful in the eyes of a man.
Sister, forget all about what a man may want or need, and consider what you need yourself. If a man who must have an attractive woman is not worth having anyway, why do you spend so much time and money on your hair and your face and your clothes and your figure and your adornments, trying to make yourself as attractive as you can? Are you trying to attract a man that is not worth having? The plain fact is this: whatever a man may need, you need to be a ravishing beauty in his eyes. You will never be content or satisfied without this. You need to eclipse all other women, or you will be plagued continually with insecurities and jealousies. You know that this is the truth, and it will remain the truth in spite of all of your opposition to it. And further, it is truth which is absolutely essential to your own happiness and security.
I know you think that just the reverse is true. You think that this takes away all of your chances for happiness and security. But you think this only because you fail to understand the real issue. You fail to distinguish between objective and subjective beauty, and you fail to understand that the pretty face and shapely form cannot secure the happiness of the woman who has it. Your thoughts are, if a man must have a woman whose beauty outshines that of all other women, then what hope is there for any but the cream of the crop? How can the plain woman eclipse the beautiful?
And here we have come to the grand secret. Romantic charms are just like
a magnet. A man may be attracted by the charms of a thousand different
women, precisely as a magnet will attract the opposite pole of any other
magnet. But the closer two magnets are brought together, the stronger
the attraction, and if they are brought close enough together, they will
draw each other irresistibly, and unite together as one. A man may be
drawn by the romantic charms of a thousand women, but when he becomes
close enough to one woman, the attraction of her charms is so strengthened
that she eventually eclipses all other women, and robs them all of all
their charms in his eyes. I shall endeavor to develop this in more detail
in a moment. But first, a few more words to the plain women. What I am
telling you is that you can eclipse the beautiful women. You
I am not talking about being prettier. That is not the issue at all. Some women have beautiful faces by nature, and some have plain faces. It is not possible for the plain woman to be prettier than the beautiful woman, but neither is it necessary. The point is, when a man is in love with a plain woman, her plain face becomes to him more attractive,more appealing more alluring, than the prettier face of the beautiful woman. Likewise, some women are more shapely by nature than others. Gaining or losing a little weight may work wonders for some women, but still it remains impossible for some women ever to possess the shapely form which other women have by nature. But neither is it necessary. A woman who is built like a boy will yet have the most attractive and alluring form on earth in the eyes of the man who loves her. When a man loves and marries a plain woman, it is common for tongues to wag, and people to wonder what he sees in her. The fact is, her soul has ravished his heart, and that ravishing soul has transformed her plain external shell into the most attractive feminine form on earth in his eyes.
And this is not imagination, but reality. Understand, the world is full of plain people. They are the most common sort of people on earth. Many of them, you must be aware, are happily married. Many of you, who read these lines, must marry a plain person, or not marry at all. And it is a fact that you may marry a plain person without sacrificing one whit of the physical and emotional pleasures of romantic love or marital happiness. But you are asking how such a thing could be.
It is a strange thing, but it happens often. You meet a person who at
first sight appears very plain, or perhaps positively homely. At that
point you probably suppose there is no way you could have any romantic
interest in that person. You do not choose to pursue any relationship.
But if circumstances should happen to place you close together, and you
begin to know that person, a strange thing begins to happen. You experience
that union of soul which is love.In a little time, perhaps unaccountably
to yourself, and maybe in spite of yourself, you begin to have romantic
thoughts and feelings towards your friend. And then happens the most mysterious
thing of all. That face which before appeared to be so plain now appears
to become attractive, you know not how. Your relationship deepens, your
romantic feelings ripen, and before you know what happened to you, you
find yourself perfectly ravished with the physical appearance
I may not be able to explain this transformation any better than you can. I can tell you that the transformation did not take place in the face and form of your lover, but in the eye of the beholder, but you may wish to dispute even this. You may look back with the eye of memory to that plain face which you used to know, and then look at the irresistibly attractive face which now ravishes your eyes, and be ready to swear that it is not the same face. Then you saw only the external shell. Now you see the soul in it, and the soul imparts its own glow and beauty to the face and form, the same as a burning light bulb does to the lamp shade which covers it.
It is a plain fact that even physical beauty (or at least some part of it) lies deeper than the skin. An attractive face makes the rest of the body attractive and alluring, whether it is perfectly shaped or not. But what is it that makes the face attractive? The largest part of facial beauty resides in the eyes. Especially is this true of the subjective beauty which is all-important in marriage. Now the eyes are the windows of the soul. A dead body has eyes, the same eyes it had when it was alive, but all of the beauty and warmth are gone out of them. Howsoever attractive they may have been when animated by a living soul, that attractiveness is all gone when the soul has departed. And that same soul lends its own beauty to more than just the eyes. It imparts its own glow also to the lips, and the whole countenance, indeed, to the whole carriage and bearing. This is the full explanation of how a plain person can be transformed into a very attractive one.
There is no danger of falling in love with anyone who is unattractive
to you, so long as that unattractiveness remains. But neither is there
any danger of that unattractiveness remaining when you have begun to fall
in love. Physical attraction is an absolutely essential part of romantic
love, and you cannot have the whole without having all of its parts. Failure
to understand this leads both men and women to needless and foolish worries.
I referred above to an ungodly man who entertained the foolish and wicked
notion that it was not wise to propose to a woman without first going
to bed with her to see if he would like her. And while no godly man would
think such a thought, it may be that there are godly men who fear that
they may be disappointed with the physical form of their bride when their
night of intimacy arrives. To such a fear I need only say, if it is possible
for you to entertain such a worry, it is certain that you are not in love.
Any man who is in love knows that the body of his own beloved will absolutely
But it is not usually men, but women
Love is the key, which assures not only that you cannot be disappointed,
but also that your satisfaction and delight will continue unabated at
all times. That love is in the soul, not the body. It will remain, even
when the body decays with age. A mans satisfaction is not based
upon the size or shape of a womans physical features, but upon the
love which unites the souls. Though the beauty of the body will unavoidably
decay with time, the beauty of the soul, and the bond of love between
your souls, may grow richer and deeper and fuller as time goes on
I turn now from the body to the spirit. The spirit is the seat of conscience and character, choice and commitment. It is the seat of godliness and spirituality. Concerning the spirit let me plainly state two things at the outset. First, I do not believe that the delights of marriage lie in the realm of the spirit, excepting perhaps only a very small part of them. The delights of marriage lie primarily in the body and in the soul. But, secondly, we are not therefore to conclude that the spirit is of no importance in the marriage bond. Just the contrary. The fact is, in one limited sense the spirit is the most important of all. Though I believe the spirit to be of little consequence to the making of a delightful and satisfying romantic bond, it is all-important to the keeping of it.
I have used above a jar of delicacies to represent a marriage partner, the jar standing for the body, the container in which the delicacy is kept, while the contents represent the soul, the personality, the real person which dwells within the tabernacle of clay. The spirit may be represented by the cap or seal on the jar. Now observe, a jar may have a perfectly good seal, and yet contain nothing which will give you any pleasure. It may contain ripe olives, for which you care nothing, or pickled pigs feet, which you positively dislike. You would be foolish enough to go shopping for a delicacy, and take home a jar because it had a good seal, without any regard to the contents. Much more foolish to make a lifetime commitment to the most intimate physical and emotional relationship, on the basis of character or godliness or spirituality, without reference to the charms of the body and the soul. The hyperspiritual are likely to take just such a course, and so find themselves married to a partner in whose soul they fail to find any of those masculine or feminine charms strong enough to form a sufficient basis for a delightful and satisfying romantic bond. In plain English, they may find themselves married to a partner they cannot fall in love with. Sad indeed will be their plight, for there is nothing in the realm of character or spirituality which can begin to take the place of the romantic charms which lie in the body and the soul. And those romantic charms cannot be created. They belong to the nature of the individual, and if they are not there by nature, the best character on earth, with the deepest spirituality thrown in, will not create them. To someone else, indeed, she may possess romantic charms enough to stop the stars in their courses, but this is a subjective matter, and if she does not possess such charms in your eyes, you will make the greatest mistake of your life to marry her on the basis of anything which lies in the spirit.
On the other hand, you would be a fool also to take home a jar of your
favorite delicacy, or ever to taste of its contents, if you knew that
the seal was bad. In like manner would you err to marry a woman for her
romantic and physical charms, without any reference to her character.
Indeed, you might marry the most ravishing woman on earth, whose charms
take your very breath away, and your marriage be a disastrous failure
if her character is no good
Romantic love consists largely of desire
Romantic love is the most delightful gift of God to man, and those who
have it ought to guard it as the apple of their eye. It may grow cold.
It may be destroyed
And this leads us to three considerations of extreme importance, especially
for a woman. First, it is absolute folly to marry a man before you thoroughly
know him. It is a true proverb which says, Marry in haste,
repent at leisure. Marriage is a lottery indeed if you marry
a man without a thorough and intimate knowledge of his character
Secondly, you ought not to trust your own judgement in this matter
Third, you are in particular danger here if you are young. If you are young you probably have only vague and insufficient ideas about what kind of character is necessary in a man. Of course you think you know, as young people usually think they know much more than they do, but as you grow older and wiser you will gain a much truer understanding of the matter, and then you may be saying, If I had only known! A godly woman once told me, If I had known what spirituality was, I never would have married my husband, and there are doubtless thousands who think such things who would never say them. The younger you are, the more need you have for caution in the matter, and the more need to depend upon the judgement of your elders. This may be reason enough to postpone marriage until you are older and wiser. At any rate, you ought to proceed with the utmost caution, and in prayer and dependence upon God. A giddy girl may be transported to cloud nine by the charms and attentions of a man, but when she has married him and finds that she cannot admire or respect him, her strong romance will all evaporate.
But precisely as bad character will work to destroy real romance, so
good character will work to preserve it. Kindness, gentleness, consideration,
integrity, unselfishness, yieldingness, forgiveness
This leads me to a sidelight, which I will insert at this point. A woman
will have a hard time of it if she marries a man who is beneath her in
character or spirituality, as indeed she will who marries a man who is
beneath her in intellect or depth. The woman not only is the weaker vessel:
she needs to be the weaker vessel
To return: the masculine and feminine charms which form the foundations of romance, and which make it delightful and satisfying, lie primarily in the body and the soul, but those traits which serve to make it secure and enduring lie largely in the spirit. But young people usually begin at the wrong end, and erect a pyramid upon its point. They look first at the body,and finding that to be pleasing and alluring, they are likely to inquire no further, but hasten to possess the prize, without concerning themselves with whether the soul is as charming as the body, or with whether the spirit is good or bad. As Samson did, so do they. Samson saw a woman of the daughters of the Philistines, and went immediately to his parents, saying, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. (Judges 14:1-2). He knew nothing of her soul, or real self. As for the spirit, he ought to have said, She is an ungodly Philistine, and therefore I will not consider her. But he looked only at the body, and that being appealing, he must have her. So do the young people today. And if they happen to have the good sense (or the good luck, as is more likely to be the case) to go deeper, and find themselves equally ravished with the personality of their partner, so that they have in reality fallen in love, they may then find it impossible to believe that anythingcould weaken or destroy their romance, and they are prone to regard the cautions of the more experienced as the croakings of disappointed cynics, who never experienced the ravishing love which they possess. Surely they were made for each other, and no faults in their lovers character could do any damage to the delightful love which they have found.
Such a proceeding is of course very unsafe. They ought to begin at the other end. When a man finds himself drawn to a woman, or when a woman finds herself courted by a man, they ought to look first at the spirit of the prospect, and put the character to the test, and if that fails, to disqualify that prospect, and refuse to proceed any farther. Such a step ought to be taken at the outset. If you wait until you are emotionally involved, you may very well be both unable to judge objectively of your lovers character, and unwilling to take the steps you ought to take.
One final word on character: it is a fairly easy thing to determine that
a mans character is bad, or at any rate, not good enough. On the
other hand, to determine
Having spoken at length on the nature of true marital love, I must speak
a few more words on the necessity of it. Many there are who will readily
grant that true romance as I have described it must be a very delightful
thing, who will yet contend that it is not a necessary thing. Folks might
have a good and satisfying marriage, they suppose, without any such delightful
romantic relationship. I, of course, contend just the contrary. I contend
that the human race has romantic needs which cannot be supplied by anything
except romance. We know that It is better to marry than to
burn. That is, plainly stated, there are certain needs which
burn within us which can be met by nothing else but marriage. And so in
the very chapter which Paul begins with It is good for a man
not to touch a woman
Those needs lie partly in the body, and partly in the soul. It
is better to marry than to burn, and in the normal development
of both masculine and feminine natures, that burning is neither merely
physical nor merely emotional, but both. A good marriage, a satisfying
marriage, is one which actually satisfies both of those needs. It is doubtful
that many could be found who would have the hardihood to contend that
a marriage could be called good if it were devoid of physical intimacy
or physical satisfaction. All men of good sense would pronounce such a
union to be a marriage in name only, for it would fail altogether to answer
its end. But can the human mind be sunk so low as to suppose that the
only end of marriage is physical? Is man a mere animal? The real fact
is, a marriage which fails to meet the romantic needs of the partners
is as defective as one which deprives them of physical satisfaction. It
is better to marry than to burn, but men do not burn
But I must conclude. I have rambled down this lovers lane in a
very unsystematic fashion, turning aside to explore many by-paths, but
I make no apology for that. I want my readers to understand romance, to
know what it is and whether they have it, and therefore I show them as
many facets of the gem as I can. In summary, two things are absolutely
necessary for a good marriage, love, and character
o Finis o